As it marks 150 years of tyre manufacturing, Continental is celebrating a rich heritage that included the first pneumatic application for tractors whilst championing future-proofing technology that pushes the boundaries of performance and efficiency.
The brand began production in 1871 and in 1928 it was the first to make a pneumatic tractor tyre in Europe. “In the beginning Continental produced hoof buffers. These were shoes for horses that had a rubber coating to give more grip on wet or icy surfaces,” says Hans Dietrich who has worked for Continental for over 50 years.
In the early decades of the twentieth century many tractors ran on rubber coated wheels. The introduction of low-pressure pneumatic tyres by Continental was the first step towards the radial tractor tyres used today. “The radial tyre, which now outsells the cross-ply tyre, is more gentle to the ground, has a lower rolling resistance and lasts longer,” he says.
In 1938 Continental launched the T4, becoming the first manufacturer in Germany to make a self-cleaning tyre with a new tread design. “For the first time the tread lugs were not connected, and this enhanced traction. The design integrated small bends and angles in the arrangement and design in order to constantly improve the cleaning properties of the tyre”.
Continental has also integrated digital technology into agricultural tyres. ContiPressureCheck™ monitors the heat build-up and pressure of the tyre to help the operator make adjustments that will reduce compaction and increase the life of the tyre. “In the future, sensors will not only monitor tyre pressure and temperature, but also detect the condition of the ground beneath the tyre. By monitoring the deformation of the tyre, the sensor will also be able to detect the tyre load,” explains Benjamin Hübner, Product Line Manager for Agricultural Tyres.
Additional data, such as weather conditions, crop and farm material weights could also be used to help more precisely determine the optimum running pressure. Once the data has been collated the tractor could use an on-board air supply to constantly regulate tyre pressure depending on speed, load, and ground conditions. “This will further increase operational efficiencies, reduce compaction and help farmers to increase yields and improve soil health,” concludes Mr Hübner.